The truth about abs
Ah, the ever-elusive six pack. For some of us, figuring out how to get abs has been a lifelong mission, but no matter how what abs workout we complete or burning ab exercises we do, that six pack never seems to materialise. Lots of us spend hours poking at our abs, feeling them firm under the skin and wondering why they never just show themselves, already! But if you’ve been exercising like mad and wondering how to get abs, you might be surprised to find that you’re probably taking the wrong approach in the first place.
RELATED: Fitness trends to try this year
RELATED: Take back your health in 7 days
According to Mark Robinson, dietitian and founder of Health Man Mark, while it is possible for anyone to get sculpted abs, it’s about so much more than just doing an ab workout (or 10!). In actual fact, it’s your diet that needs the most attention. “Sticking to a clean diet is the hardest factor given all the temptations we are faced with in society,” he says. “But getting toned abs is possible with hard work, patience, consistency and the correct knowledge!”
So if you want to know how to get abs, you better be ready to commit. You’ll need to be prepared to focus on the area, which means cleaning up your diet, following a dedicated abs workout and fitting in ab exercises wherever you can – on the train, on the couch, even when you’re lying in bed! Striving for a six pack isn’t for everyone (especially those lucky lasses who just have them naturally – the rest of us curse you all!), but if it’s the look you’re after, we say follow those dreams, girl! “It’s very hard to get toned abs,” seconds Mark. “But if they were easy, then everyone would be walking around with six or eight packs.”
Ready to commit to a six pack? Let’s get down to business (and get those abs popping!).
What actually are our 'abs'?
As it turns out, a lot of people find the whole concept of abs confusing. Like, do we already have abs? Or do we need to know how to get abs to have them? The good news is – you’ve already got abs! We all do. But what are those bumps under there anyway and why can’t we always see them – even when we’re feeling trim and toned? According to Mark it all depends on your whole physique when it comes to getting them popping. “Abdominals are a set of muscles that sit under your belly fat,” he says. “The leaner one is the more visible they are.” Well, that settles that then.
Why can’t I get six pack abs?
There are a few reasons why you might not be able to see those cheese-grater abs yet (cause we know they’re under there somewhere!). Mark points to a lack of knowledge about the correct nutrition when it comes to showing off a six pack. “Diet is the most important thing in achieving toned abs. 75-80 per cent of results for your abs are dependent of your diet!” he says. “We need to have a low enough body fat in order for abs to be visible.” So if your diet isn’t on point, it’s likely your abs won’t be either.
Another factor that might be affecting your ability to get abs is those pesky problem areas. “Stubborn fat stores around the stomach from a history of unhealthy lifestyle choices can take time to lose before the abs underneath can be seen,” says Mark.
When it comes to your training, even all the ab exercises in the world won’t sculpt your body without regular cardio. Getting your heart rate up with cardio-based training will help you burn the fat required to get the abs of your dreams.
How to get a six pack
First things first – get your diet sorted. “To get toned abs, your best bet is to follow a diet which is low in fat and high in protein,” says Mark. “High protein, low-fat foods such as chicken breast, premium beef, white fish, egg whites, tuna, no-fat yoghurt and cottage cheese are all great inclusions to your diet. Make sure you also have a high vegetable intake with plenty of variety, such as broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, capsicum, snow peas, baby spinach and tomato.”
Next, it’s time to change up the way you train. And no, it’s not all about a killer abs workout. Mark points to cardio exercises such as running, cycling, and swimming as helpful for burning fat around your midsection. Once you’ve got your heart pumping and those calories being torched, it’s time to add in body weight gym circuit training, resistance weight training and isolated abdominal exercises to feel the burn. Mark suggests core-focused exercises such as crunches, plank holds, abdominal crunches, reverse crunches and mountain climbers to get you started.
More of a group exercise girl? No problem. Mark suggests trying High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) classes as an all-over toner. “HIIT is also the best for increasing one’s fitness levels,” he says. “It’s usually one minute on a station, typically body weight exercise or some sort of abdominal specific exercise, and then 30 seconds to one minute rest in between for at least 10 stations.”
To keep you on track to your six pack goal, Mark suggests keeping a few foods to a minimum. “High fat food choices such as creams, butter, cheese, any full cream dairy, sausages, skin of chicken, deep fried options and preceded meats like patties and salamis should be limited,” he advises. “High sugar options like soft drinks, cordials, juices, white bread and buns, sugary cereals and snack bars should also be avoided on your quest to toned abs.”
We know, it sounds like a commitment – and it is! But if you’ve got a goal, stay focused and be healthiest version of you that you can be. We’ll have washboard abs in no time!
To find out more about Health Man Mark, head to healthmanmark.com for awesome nutrition and training plans.
What areas of your body do you like to focus on when you train?